Q&A with Deborah Reed MFA ’12

Deborah Reed MFA ’12 publishes her fifth novel, Olivay, in July 2015. It joins her other literary pieces, Carry Yourself Back to Me and Things We Set on Fire, as well as her genre thrillers, A Small Fortune and Fortune’s Deadly Descent, published under the pen name Audrey Braun.

On Early Writing

“I was always a reader. That was weird in my family, but I found at a really young age that I loved to read. In 10th grade, I took a creative writing class. It must have been required. We had to write short stories. Thinking back, they must have been terrible. But the teacher — I can’t even remember his name — gave me an A-plus and wrote, ‘You could be a writer.’ I thought, ‘That’s weird.’ He might as well have said, ‘You could be an astronaut.’  It was flattering, but it didn’t really register until years later. I was filling up journals with poems, sketches of scenes, short stories, and I was drawn back to what he said. That was my first clue.”

On Using a Pen Name

“I didn’t know if I wanted to be known as someone who writes thrillers. I also thought, if it’s a flop, no one will know it was me. It didn’t occur to me that if it was a success no one would know it was me. Now I always say I also publish as Audrey Braun.”

Read more about Deborah Reed
in ‘The Writerly Life’

“The difference is the thrillers are heavier on plot. The stakes are higher, it’s more action packed. On the other side, Deborah Reed is more character driven. The stakes are more internal than external, dealing with topics of grief and loss. I will say I try to keep the language fresh in the thrillers. I try to do what I do with prose without being too heavy. When the plot is moving quickly, you can’t stop and describe the landscape. But I try to avoid clichés.”

On Pacific’s MFA Program

“I think the faculty is outstanding. They were so supportive. They are great, great mentors and teachers. And the other students that I met through the program became my network of writer friends. Here we are years later, and a small group of us continues to share writing. Sharon Harrigan and Leigh Rourks, they in particular are my writing crew. They have both gone on to win awards, major awards, in short fiction. There’s so much writing they’re getting published. And Pacific gave them to me.”

Book List

The Robot Scientist’s Daughter
By Jeannine Hall Gailey MFA ‘07
Gailey’s fourth complete book of poetry, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter describes a natural world in danger by our nuclear past and a girl in search of the secrets of survival.

The View From Who I Was
By Heather Sappenfield MFA ‘11
The View From Who I Was explores a teenage girl’s recovery and self-discovery following a suicide attempt. In this first novel, Sappenfield draws from her experience as a high school English teacher. Her second novel, The Quanta of My Bones, will be released in 2016.

The Body Institute
By Carol Riggs ‘82
Body image issues meet dystopian adventure in this young adult novel about teens given the power to take over another person’s body, get it into shape, then return to their own lives.

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